Sunday, 6 June 2021

Words that caught us: What would you like your kids to know? (Part 3)

 



Know the largest retailer in the world?

Yes, of course. It's Amazon.

And before that?

Well...not sure about that, are you?

It was Walmart.

You probably haven't heard of it.

But there is story that's common with both.

 

In its heyday, Walmart built its stores

Next to independent retailers.

 

That's like Hilton opening a swanky hotel

Next to Ritam Getaways.

 

You can't compete with such giants.

They are not only bigger stores,

With more variety, better quality

And cheaper prices,

But are also more resourced,

With bigger marketing budgets,

And, wider and deeper networks.

 

The independent retailers had two choices:

Adapt or be squashed.

 

And most were squashed.

 

For a long time,

Walmart has been accused of killing

The neighborhood Ma' & Pop shops.

And it's now Amazon's turn.

It has not only become

The online behemoth store of everything,

But it’s now expanding beyond merchandise,

Into services as varied as

Pharmacy, financial services, groceries

And even beauty shops –

Literally, eating up every corner of commerce.

 

So, what do you do,

When an Amazon comes for your lunch?

 

What do you do,

When someone comes along,

With better skills,

More passion and drive,

More money and status,

And better networks to boot?

 

And, mark these words, come they will.

 

Remember the Desiderata?

There will always be,

Greater and lesser persons

Than yourself.

 

We rarely have problems

Responding to pressures from below,

But few of us know how to respond

To people and circumstances,

That are better than us.

 

Most are intimidated, and cope out,

Others, kill themselves slowly, with jealousy,

Or, simply, get squashed out of the game.

 

But there is a better way.

And that's what those retailers that survived,

Used.

 

They didn't compete.

They weren’t intimidated.

Or, jealous.

 

They, instead, embraced and learnt

Adapted and adopted,

And then pivoted on their strengths,

Ultimately, becoming unique

And different.

 

That's why knowing your strengths,

And constantly developing,

Amplifying,

And leveraging them,

Is the key to progress and success.

 

When it comes to infinite games,

You don't compete against the best.

It’s mostly futile,

Because the objective of an infinite game

Ain’t to win,

But to perpetuate the game.

 

A better strategy then,

Is to strive to co-exist.

 

Don't be afraid of them.

Embrace them, instead.

Learn from them.

Let their greatness inspire you.

And above all

Let their challenge make you better,

By revealing to you, what you are not,

What you truly are,

Your uniqueness,

And what only you, can deliver.

 

Don't compete. Be different

Be a linchpin!


*Today’s reflection was inspired by Shep Hyken.

** If interested, Seth Godin's Linchpin: Are you indispensable?, is a good read on this point.


Sunday, 30 May 2021

Words that caught us: What would you like your kids to know (Part 2)

 


One of the things

We wish we had learnt much earlier,

Is to stop wasting time and resources

Fixing mistakes and errors,

And instead spend that time, 

And those resources

Flipping what works.

 

It’s really a game changer.

 

That’s not to say you ignore, deny,

Or go blind on mistakes and errors.

Rather,

It is to say that not all mistakes and errors

Are worth fixing.

Most can be resolved by

Dropping whatever is causing the errors,

Or, making them irrelevant

By continuously flipping what is working.

 

This is what they mean when they say,

‘Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes.’*

 

So, the most important thing

In honoring imperfect progress,

Is listening for feedback

On what is working,

And focusing your time and resources

On flipping that.

 

Without that nuance,

Itineration becomes ‘running on the spot’.

 

So, the basic idea behind ‘prioritizing the highest order bit’**

Is to focus on, and flip, only what is most important

In moving you forward,

And ignore the rest, at least for the time being.  

 

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths,

Not by eliminating our weaknesses.”***


Instead of asking, ‘What’s broken and how do I fix it?’

Ask, ‘What’s working and how can I do more of it?’

‘What should I get rid of?’

And, ‘What should I ignore for now?’

 

“When we build on our strengths and daily successes —

Instead of focusing on failures —

We simply learn more.”****

 

Learn to flip only what is working.

Learn to amplify the bright spots.

Learn to let go what is not serving you.

 

Meaning, it is, most often, wiser

To let the weaknesses be and errors persist,

And work on compensating for them, instead.

This is counter intuitive.

This is not how we were taught or brought up.

And so practicing this will need courage…

Courage to read the results as feedback

On our past decisions,

Courage to accept the lessons,

Courage to let go,

Courage to walk with a limp,

Courage to live forward, with renewed confidence

Of what’s working.

 

Remember, when you’re playing an infinite game,

You never know where you’re going to end up.

It’s the journey and the learnings along the way

That determine where you go.

You can’t possibly know where you’ll end up,

But by amplifying the bright spots

You’ll have lit your way well enough

To feel comfortable that you are on the right path.

 

* Quote by Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

** Dinesh Raju's management document referred to by Cedric Chin (see Part 1)

*** Quote by Marilyn Von Savant

**** Quote by Tom Rath, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements

***** This reflection was inspired by Ozan Varol 

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Words that caught us: What would you like your kids to know? (Part 1)

 


It is said that the best thing

We can do for your kids,

Is not to give them everything we didn’t have,

But to teach them

What we wish we knew, when growing up.

 

Think about that for a moment.

 

What is the most insightful thing,

That you know today,

That you wish you had known, growing up.

 

Here are a few things from us...

The first is repetition.

Yes.

Repetition.

Or, as it is called in business, 

Iteration and pivoting.

 

No one ever told us, or taught us

That repetition is the song of life –

That no one knows anything, for sure;

And that we are all groveling in the dark,

Trying to figure out what works,

And what doesn’t;

And that we learn all that, through repetition,

And honouring imperfect progress.

 

We were raised knowing that

We have to get it right the first time.

We were taught to aim for, and expect,

A perfect score in everything, every time;

And that that’s the only thing that mattered.


We were raised to feel shame and embarrassment,

With every failure,

With every imperfect progress,

In every moment, when we didn’t know what to do,

Or, when we were uncertain and unsure.

 That’s why we were hesitant to raise our hands in class,

If we didn’t know the answer;

And, unfortunately,

We carried this attitude into adulthood.

 

No one told us that the secret of life

Is in experimentation and curiosity;

And that it was ‘okay’ if some of those experiments

Turned dud.

 

Think about it.

 

How does one become an expert?

How does a chef achieve a Michellin Star?

How did Messi become so deft with his left foot?

How did so and so become such a good artist?

How did so and so break the glass ceiling?

 

How do you know your business idea will work?

You don’t.

How do you know that something

You just posted online, will go viral?

You don’t.

How do you know that tomorrow’s presentation

Will be your best,

And the breakthrough you have been waiting for?

You don’t.

How do you know your marriage will last?

You don’t.


None of us does.

 

You just keep trying!

 

It’s all experimentation and repetition.

If it works the first time, great.

If it doesn’t work, no problem.

No embarrassment. No shame.

Just move on to the next act, and itinerate,

Again and again –

Tweak it here, and there

And over time, viola, we stumble upon the Holy Grail.

 

If there is one thing we wish we knew

Is to see each imperfect result, or outcome,

As a feedback on our progress,

Rather than feel and experience it,

As shame and dissatisfaction.

 

We would like our kids to know

That living life is just like making art –

That you do something,

With the possibility that it may, or may not work –

And that it is okay if it doesn’t,

But continue to itinerate and pivot,

Until you get it right.

 

Every lover of travel will tell you,

That they are always getting lost,

And missing directions,

Or, getting disappointed…

But they have not stopped travelling.

 

Every gardener will tell you,

That they have tried many varieties and failed,

Or, they deeply love a certain plant or flower,

But it is not doing well in their garden,

Or, they have come to see that it doesn’t fit

In their garden.

 

Such is life!

 

We would like to lift off

The heavy bucket of dissatisfaction and shame,

Off the shoulders of our kids,

By teaching them

To normalize failure, and imperfect progress –

That we, too, do not know what we are doing,

That we are not all-knowing,

Or sure-footed, every time;

And some of what has worked for us,

May not work for them,

And that they should feel free to explore,

And itinerate when it doesn’t pun out.

 

In business, it is the firm 

That itinerates most often and fastest, 

That's most successful and sustainable.

In nature, it is the species

That itinerates (adapts) most often and fastest,

That survives.

In sports, its the player who itinerates the most

That becomes a legend (Ask Michael Jordan).

And so it is with life.


We would like them to know

That their life is special and unique,

And not a commodity,

They can buy off cheaply on the street;

And that, just like a gardener,

They must keep tilling, planting, 

Watering and weeding,

Because the best harvest,

Is always, in the next season!

 

What would you like your kids to know?


*This reflection has been inspired by Dan Rockwell and Cedric Chin

 

Friday, 21 May 2021

Together ...WE CAN!

Psst. A friend wrote to us to let us know that she had found this message we had shared on our status on WhatsApp, pretty inspiring. Hope you feel the same way. 























Sunday, 16 May 2021

Words that caught us: What and who are you teaching?

 


Have you ever sat down and wished,

That you lived in a house,

With less grills and bars,

And fewer and lower fences,

That you may wave ‘good morning’ at your neighbor;

Or lived in a place

With less strife and congestion,

And more open spaces, parks and jogging/circling paths;

Or lived in a society

Where honesty, integrity and honour,

Are more desired, treasured and celebrated,

Than trickery and thievery;

Or lived in a rich culture,

Where beauty, art and aesthetics

Count for more than just a passing indulgence?

 

Have you?

 

Do you ever look at your country,

And community,

And wonder how we got here?

Do you ever wonder why we are so intent

At self-aggrandizement and self-annihilation?

 

Do you?

 

What does it take to create

A thriving and life-enhancing culture?

 

This is a question that has caught and bothered us,

Especially, after our just concluded series on Wayfinding.

 

If, as Simon Sinek says, we humans

Owe our survival and dominance,

Not so much to our intelligence,

But rather, to our gregarious nature

Of keeping together, protecting each other,

And building on each other…

How come, then, that we seem so keen

At destroying the very thing

That makes us strong?

 

If, as we saw in our Wayfinding series,

That Wayfinding is fundamentally a social process,

In which building and joining supportive communities,

And tribes of progress,

Is key to finding our way in and through life's intractable-s,

How come, then, that we are so intent at going it alone?

 

The answer seems to point eerily at our culture.

 

Perhaps we need to pay closer attention,

And be interested,

In how we build, or destroy it,

For, we are all actors and contributors to it.

 

Perhaps the best way to build a thriving,

And life-enhancing culture,

Is for each of us to take responsibility,

In teaching and inspiring what we would like see.

 

What are you good at?

How did you get that way?

Who are you teaching it?

How are you teaching it?

 

Sometimes, we let our ego run away with us,

In projecting an image of achievement and excellence,

As if the way we are now,

Is the way we have always been.

We often forget,

That we were all once a seed, who was planted,

And we have all grown magnificently,

Because of our unique exposure to sunlight,

Food source,

And manicuring.

We didn't get that way on our own.

Someone mentored us.

Someone inspired us.

Someone supported and encouraged us.

Someone took our hand and taught us the ropes.

Someone celebrated our wins,

And commiserated in our failures.

Someone gave us the first lucky break.

Someone gave us, or planted in us,

That crucial feedback, or insight,

That opened the floodgates to our success.

 

If we ever hope to make this place better,

If we really want to leave it better than it is,

Then it's time for us to start teaching what we know,

And to reproduce the greatness we see in ourselves.

For, how else shall we create this thriving,

And life-enhancing culture, we so much desire?

 

So,

Challenge yourself to answer these questions, today.

What are you good at?

How did you get that way?

Who are you teaching it?

How are you teaching it?

 

Let’s do our part in arresting this slide to the bottom.

Let’s do our part in creating what we desire, and want to see.

And together, we can thrive,

And progress the human race,

Like we have done for millennia.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Words that caught us: W is for Wayfinding (Part 7)

 


Imagine that a raging battle

Has left you with only one means of escape –

Crossing a thick and unfamiliar forest.

How do you do it?

 

Here’s a recap.

 

Wayfinding is the art of assessing the situation,

Analyzing the facts, and developing options,

For moving from Point A to B,

Usually, through many unknown,

And unknowable Points.

 

The first step, is to rise over our initial fear,

Of the uncertainties ahead of us.

Fear, as we saw in Part 1, is a narrative –

A story we tell ourselves –

And the way to conquer it, 

Is by changing what we say, 

When we talk to ourselves.

 

But that is not all.

How we think and feel in the moment,

Is highly dependent on our self-awareness –

That is, on the knowledge we have of our Jar;

What is inside it,

And the influences other Jars have on it.

The second step, as we saw in Part 2,  

Is therefore, to relook at our Jar,

And ensure that we have in it,

The right Rocks, Pebbles and Sand.

 

This exercise is, however, not as simple as it sounds.

In the mouth of our Jar, stands guard,

Two mighty foes preventing us

From getting anything out, or in, the Jar.

As we saw in Part 3, we can’t begin our Wayfinding,

Until we overcome the drag of sunk costs,

And established habits.

 

Once our narrative, and our Jar,

Are ready and in good order,

We can now set out on our journey.

But in which direction shall we head?

And how shall we make the numerous choices,

That we’ll inevitably have to make in our journey?

We need some guiding stars.

Part 4 proposes that we use our values

To set direction and guide our choices.

Ultimately, it’s our values that will determine,

Where we end up.

 

Now we are off to the races!

We need the wind on our wings,

And all the support we can muster,

To make good and quick progress, in our journey.

How do we harness these?

The answer, as we saw in Part 5,

Lies in consistently, hunting the good stuff.

The journey will be much easier and faster,

If we join and associate with others, on the same route.

 

Finally, as we all know,

No journey is without challenges and setbacks.

Some of our plans will not pan out.

And, despite all our efforts

At achieving a perfect score,

We’ll certainly make a few wrong turns.

How will we survive these moments of struggle

And defeat?

We need to be ready and strong,

And, as we saw in Part 6, this is best done

By continuously building personal resilience.

 

That’s it.

That’s about all we need, to cross the forest.

5 key elements in Wayfinding:

  1. Shift the narrative
  2. Tend to our Jar
  3. Choose our direction
  4. Hunt the good stuff
  5. Build our armour

 Are you ready?

 

*This marks the end of this 7-Part Wayfinding series. Thanks a heap for joining us in this reflection. Writing it was a discovery journey for us too. We hope and trust you got something useful to encourage you in your own Wayfinding.